Great British Train Show 2016 & Credit Valley

As i noted previously, the weekend of May 7-8 was the 2016 edition of the Great British Train Show hosted by the Platelayers Society in Brampton Ontario.  The show is a highly focused show that happens every other year and features only British model trains in all different scales.  As anyone who has ever been to a Model Railroad Exhibition in the UK knows, their shows are very different to a typical Canadian Train show.  The layouts are really the stars, with shows in the UK actually bidding to get layouts to come and exhibit at their show and not others nearby.

26663271370_9fd32d2767_o“Angloshire”, a large demonstration layout up from Pennsylvania in the US.  The layout features “cameo” scenes of British culture for people to find, a real visual treat.

While GBTS isn’t this crazy, it is a showcase of the many fine British Modellers, not just in Ontario, but from right across the USA and Canada as people often travel across the continent for the show.  This year, i brought James Rasor, a friend and fellow model railroader (even though he models in N scale!) who hadn’t previously had exposure to British trains.  We packed up nice and early on Saturday morning, and after a quick drive through High Park by my apartment to see the non-blossoms on the Cherry Trees after our odd spring weather, we hit the road for the north end of Brampton.  Arriving at the show about 20 minutes before opening, we were greeted with a line almost out of the building of people waiting to get in.  This is always a positive sign to me, as without the paying customers, the shows don’t succeed, and fade away, and as this happens, the exposure for our hobby and any chance to invite in the next generation of modellers goes away.  There’s a separate discussion about improving shows and events to be had, and in engaging “millennials” in the hobby.

26877520195_8e90b3ed3d_bOverview of GBTS2016 in Brampton Ontario.  Vendors are around the boards of the arena, with layouts and displays in the middle.

My usual routine for GBTS is to do a lap of the arena, conveniently, all the vendors are arranged around the outside of the arena, with the displays and layouts in the middle.  It’s a very good layout for a show to my mind, as its easy to just make a loop of the vendors and shop, then switch into the middle and take your time to enjoy others handiwork on display.

A collection of layouts, an OO Gauge Switching Puzzle “Witzend Sidings”, an O Guage GWR Branch Station in “Roweham”, and an OO Gauge exhibition layout “Ardleigh Bitton” showing off the line detail.

There were layouts and models in many gauges, including N Gauge, OO Gauge, EM Gauge, S Scale, O Scale and a 7-1/4″ Gauge diesel!  The quality of the modelling is top notch.  It’s one of the things I’ve observed with British modellers, the smaller size of homes in the UK has bred a culture of building super highly detailed small layouts, which are often sold on or dismantled after a few years to start over on a new project.  Unlike many in Canada and the US, the concept of a monster home layout empire has never been held, so people spend inordinate amounts of time making their small layouts be highly detailed.  It’s inspirational to me as someone living in a 750 square foot apartment, i certainly don’t have room to build a massive empire, but a small super detailed switching layout or similar is something i can do.

Members of the Platelayers Society demonstrate modelling technique and talk trains with guests at the GBTS 2016.

Following our time at GBTS, James and i decided to tack on some more trains, and make a visit to the Credit Valley Model Railroad Company store in Mississauga.  Neither of us bought much there, but its always fun to browse and see whats new there.  I did manage to get a couple of issues of Canadian Model Railroader with articles on converting a Bachmann 4-4-0 to more closely resemble the Canadian Pacific Railway’s 4-4-0’s, something I’ve often considered as a future project (though that will be years down the road with my current project list!!).

Hopefully the GBTS can stick to the formula that has worked for it.  Hold the show every other year, so as to not over-saturate the market for a niche part of the hobby.  Meeting every two years gives people lots of time to work on new layouts and models, so that there is a good turnover in what is on display.  One of the things that i think can kill niche shows is having the same thing every year, that means the non-core market won’t come, they’ll lose interest seeing the same thing over and over.  With that, the GBTS 2016 is over and done, on to GBTS2018 in two years time (though there will be plenty of posts from me about modelling British trains in the interim!)

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